Damsel in distress

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Buttercup is a damsel in distress for most of The Princess Bride.

The damsel in distress is an extremely common trope in fiction where a female character is in danger and needs to be saved, almost always by a male character. This trope exists in some of humanity's oldest stories and continues to be a very frequent plot device in modern fiction. Often times, when the damsel is rescued, she becomes a reward for the hero who rescued her.

When I was younger I had a mild appreciation with this trope and found it to be romantic. However, after seeing it played out thousands of times, I'm completely sick of it. I don't have a problem with the damsel in distress trope in principle, but I find it troubling how it has become ubiquitous in fiction. When it comes to media, I much prefer strong female characters who can solve their own problems, however, I have to admit there are plenty of books, films, and video games I like which use this trope. However, in most cases, I think the media could be made better by finding a more creative trope to use.


These are works which feature a damsel in distress that are important to me. For the complete list, see the damsel in distress category.

Title Released Media Notes
Aladdin 1992-11-25 Film Princess Jasmine needs to be rescued by Aladdin multiple times in the film.
Final Fantasy VI 1994-04-02 Video Game Through the course of the story, every playable female character is kidnapped and needs rescuing, some multiple times.
The Goonies series 1985-06-07 Film Nearly every form of media produced in the series requires Andy to be rescued.
Harry Potter series 1997-06-26 Fiction Despite being by-far the most capable of the bunch, Hermione finds herself needing to be rescued in nearly all of the books. Ginny does as well in Chamber of Secrets.
King's Quest series 1985-??-?? Video Game Since the series borrows heavily from mythology and fairy tales, most of the titles include at least one damsel in distress.
The Legend of Zelda series 1987-08-22 Video Game Most of games in the series require Link to rescue a woman, usually the Princess Zelda, usually because she's been kidnapped.
Mario series 1981-07-09 Video Game Most games which feature Mario also feature a woman for him to save. Usually it's Princess Peach, but Princess Daisy, Pauline, and Rosalina are also used.
The Princess Bride 1973-??-?? Fiction Princess Buttercup is the damsel in distress archetype with no useful attributes other than her beauty.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series 1984-05-?? Comics Nearly every form of media from this franchise has April O'Neil needing rescue at some point.




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